London for Kids: Kew Gardens

Soooo, we have literally just finished our two week Easter holidays and living in London, we have been busy busy busy with the kids. London has SO MUCH to offer for kids – with its many galleries, museums, fountains and parks. It really is an amazing city for green spaces in particular! As my kids go to a space tight local London school, it is important for us to go out and about in the holidays and enjoy nature – whatever the weather. Luckily for us, we were blessed with fine weather, which made it even more enjoyable.

One great destination for Kids in London is, Kew Gardens in Surrey. Yes, technically it isn’t London anymore, but it is certainly is part of the “Londoner’s to do list”. The great thing about Kew Gardens is, that kids go free! Also, like many London venues and destinations, Kew Gardens has been working hard over the last few years to make it a place to go with kids all year round. It is a wonderful place to visit as an adult interested in plants and fauna, but now it is also a great place to go with kids.

Over Easter, they had a fun Timmy Trail going…

Kew Gardens for Kids - Timmy TrailThe kids had maps and had to find Timmy Stations all around the gardens. It is a great way to keep them moving and exploring, as well as learn about the gardens themselves – each station not only provides the much coveted Shaun the Sheep stamp, but also information about plants in the immediate area. We particularly enjoyed discovering the “Snake Heads” flowers.

There was also a big “attraction” tent with activities (such as wellie throwing and cabbage rolling), which looked great fun and were busy indeed, BUT we were actually so busy with the rest of the park, that we did not end up having a go.

London for Kids -  Kew Gardens in Spring

We spent a total of 5 hours at the park and visited the Tree Top walk way (be sure to go to the little “bug tunnel” at the foot of the stairs, for info on creepy crawlies.

We went to the glass houses and searched for cocoa beans and unusual flowers. We LOVED all the beautiful Spring tulips on display, as well as the stunning blossom trees. Aaaaah Spring. A truly wonderful time to visit Kew Gardens.

Having said that, there is always something to see and do at Kew Gardens – there is a play ground and soft play area if you need some “classic” child distractions. There are plenty of grassy little verges for the children to do some rolly pollies down (nothing better than rolling down a grassy hills). There are always some flowers in bloom and of course the glass houses to explore.

I am looking forward to Winter, when they have a special magical light trail on too (new last year and we missed it!!! But it looked amazing).

And whilst we enjoyed a “day out in the park”, the kids did actually get to appreciate and discover some beautiful plants too.

Disclaimer: Kew Gardens invites us to spend the day with them and write about our experiences… BUT as it happened, we had already planned to visit these holidays already! It just meant that I took more photos than usual!! ;-)

 

3D Shape Hunt – Photo Activities for Preschoolers

Pip Squeak aged 5, is now learning about 3D shapes. Well actually, she is learning about 2D shapes AND 3D shapes at school. As part of this maths learning activity, the children were asked to review the different 3D shapes with their parents and then go on a shape hunt around the house.

With the advent of smart phones, taking photos is a really easy activity for kids and a great way to get them “into photography”. Not only, are they learning about recognising and identifying basic shapes, but they also get to use modern equipment and think about their photo compositions (and whether or not their pictures are in focus in the first place!).

3D Shapes for Reception

We looked at these 3D Shapes frm JustTeachIt.co.uk and talked about the properties of each. Pip Squeak then grabbed my smart phone (quite happily) and went off to find some shapes.

3D Shape HuntWe found plenty of circles:

  • Marbles
  • Juggling Ball

Some cuboids

  • lunch box
  • lego brick (we discussed whether or not this was in fact a cube, but decided that not)

And some cylinders

We didn’t get too much further than this on THIS occassion. What I should have done, I should have printed out the above sheet and got Pip Squeak to tick off the shapes as she found them. That would have encouraged her to do more I think.

Regardless, I think she did a great job – discussing and looking for 3D shapes, as well as practicing her photo skills!

 

Preschooler Maths at Home

I thought I would share some of the girl’s maths homework now – she is in Reception (4-5yrs olds), which age wise, is similar to preschool age for kids in pretty much the rest of the world. This week, we share a simply activity of weighing and working out what is “heavier” and “lighter”.

maths at home

This is such a super simple activity but has so many maths and learning benefits on all sorts of levels –

* language – looking at light, lighter, lightest and heavy, heavier, heaviest

* estimating skills (get the child to guess FIRST what will be heavier and lighter)

* writing skills  – numeric and alphabetic (get the child to help chart what is heavier and lighter.. )

* analytically skills – get them comparing the ACTUAL result with the predicted results

* working with “bigger” numbers. Most kids at this age are comfortable with the 10s, though they can talk about 100s, they actually, always understand them. Do they know the difference between 187 and 191 and 190? etc

You will find that most children will enjoy, rushing around the home, looking for different things to weigh. We kept it simple and compared two items at a time. You can add a challenge, by getting them to order more than 2 items by weight at a time.

How to Catch a Hamster

Have you got a Hamster? Does it like to play Houdini and regularly escape? When your Hamster escapes, do you turn the house upside down and STILL don’t find it? Well… we have a new Hamster.. and he LOVES TO ESCAPE. We try very hard to keep the cage as secure as possible, but hey.. the minute he sniffs and opportunity he is off and then we simply cannot find our hamster! As we have two cats in the house too, this poses rather a problem!

Luckily we keep our Hamster in the living room with the door shut tightly at night (well, we hope he can’t get out of the living room too). So hopefully that means our escaped hamster is nice and safe from the cats in there.

The kids set to work to build a HAMSTER TRAP. This is how to catch a Hamster when he has escaped!!

How to Catch a Hamster (it really works)

We filled a bucket with some of our hamster’s bedding. Added a bowl of his normal food and a small dish or treats (cheese, dog biscuit, an apple slice). We also added a TP Roll, so he could hide away should we finally catch him.

Then the kids set to work with their DUPLO LEGO… and converted a Duplo LEGO house that they had already made, into a staircase…

The idea being – the escaped hamster climbs the stairs, slides into the bucket to get the food and then can’t get out.

What happened next with our Hamster Trap

Our hamster trap was humoured by daddy, inspected by the neighbours and poo-pooed on social media.. “it well never work”. “you must start looking for him” “that’s the last you will have seen of him” “I warned you” and so on…. But I had faith.

And we also had patience. Our hamster, like all hamsters, is most active at night time, so I didn’t expect anything to happen during the day. Or early evening… and then… at 2am…. Hubby heard something… went to check and THERE HE WAS! A bit distressed at being caught, but safe! Food in a muddle and upturned and scrabbling away, but well! He gently tipped the bucket to let him rush into his cage and the job was done.

Here the children, tell you about what happened and share their hamster trap – demo-ing the nightly wanderings with the help of our stuff toy Sniffles.

Good luck with your pet!! Let us know how you got on!!

Maths Help for Parents

I don’t know about you, but I always thought I would be one of those parents that helps their kids with their work – not too much of course, as they do need to learn themselves, but enough to support what they are doing at school, also at home. I was full of good intentions.

And then reality hit me – the reality of kids being in school from 9am until 3:30am. Meaning that realistically “nothing” extra can happen between 8:30am and 4pm. And in the time before and after that, you kind of want to just enjoy your children and also, well, LET THEM be children, right? After all, they need to play and have fun too, right?

So, I came across this fab little video from Ali at Kids Chaos. And it is right up my street – playful maths at home –  little things we can do in every day scenarios, making things like maths “real”. Genius.

 

I look forward to seeing more!